07 April 2023

Book Review: Kingsrise by Anne Mattias

DI Niamh Khalid, the protagonist at the heart of Anne Mattias's debut novel, Kingsrise, has had better Halloween nights: first, her beloved teenage brother Lance and his friends find themselves in trouble with the law and then a body shows up on the beach. It turns out that the man is critically wounded, not dead, but working out who he is and where (or when) he has come from proves challenging for Niamh and her team. And then a dead man dressed as a knight is found near The Gate, the stone arch on the outskirts of Niamh's sleepy town, and things become even stranger — and more troubling.

The first chapter sets up the story perfectly, introducing Niamh and establishing her complex relationship with Lance — a wonderful characterisation of the often neglected brother–sister relationship — before ending with a twist. From then on, I was gripped by the story and ended up staying up way too late to find out what happened.

I don't read much in the fantasy genre but I am a big fan of detective novels and police procedurals, and these elements drew me in through the first act, after which I was intrigued by the other-worldly mystery and loved spending time with Niamh, who is a fascinating lead character, and her nearest and dearest. I particularly enjoyed Niamh's developing relationship with the local journalist who is covering the story. Mattias's writing is rich with imagery, engaging and witty — although the genre is different, it reminded me of Elly Griffiths in tone and style. I also loved the attention to detail, from the naming of characters and places to the author's excellent research throughout.

Before I started Kingsrise, I had been going through a bit of a reading slump but it was the perfect novel to get me turning back to my Kindle again. I can't wait to find out what happens next in the Kingsrise universe.

I should also note that Anne is a very good friend of mine and she sent me an advance review copy of Kingsrise, although I've since bought a copy of my own. I'm very proud of Anne's incredible achievement and can wholeheartedly recommend Kingsrise to anyone who enjoys the cosy crime and/or urban fantasy fiction genres. And if you're curious about the fab cover art, as shown above on my iPad, it's by Kathi Bondzio.

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